The Fish Counter

Editor’s note: This is not a list.  Repeat.  This is not a list.  If you were hoping this was another list, I’m sorry.  I assure you I’m working on additional lists and will share them just as soon as I can.  I’m doing the best I can, people.   You have no idea how much whining, bickering, and spelling I’ve tolerated over the last 48 hours.  My boys are like an old, strange, spelling-obsessed married couple.  They even bicker about spelling!  They make it almost impossible for me to have an original thought besides the fantasies I have about having their vocal chords removed.  Quite frankly, it’s amazing I’m still here at all.  Today, instead of a list, I bring you a tale from the fish counter.  Try to enjoy it. 

So, I’m in the grocery store with Dylan after school one day.  We’re at the fish counter getting a pound of shrimp and Dylan blurts out to the fish guy, “Hi, I’m Dylan.”

The fish guy says, “Hi, Dylan, I’m Joshua.”

Then Dylan says, “Nice to meet you.”

The conversation goes on.  The fish guy, Joshua, asks Dylan if he had fun at school and what he learned.  Dylan responds with pleasantries like, “Yes, I had fun and yes, I learned a lot.”

A woman walks up to me and says, “Wow, your son is so polite.”

I pause and then respond humorously (sarcasticly?), “He has his moments.”

It’s true.  Occasionally, he has these astonishingly amazing moments of politeness, respect, and grace.  Other times, as Riley would say, “Well…”  But this moment – the one at the fish counter  – was one of the good ones, and it involved absolutely no coaching from me, so it was actually one of the really, really, really good ones.  Instead of acknowledging it, owning it, and feeling pride about it, I undermined it.  I deflected her kind words and made an excuse.  In doing so, I suggested this woman caught us in a rare instant of good manners, and that’s not accurate.  It wasn’t fair to Dylan, and it wasn’t fair to me.

Why do I find it so easy to blame and guilt myself to death about all of my kids’ flaws and my shortcomings as a mother, yet I find it utterly impossible to accept a compliment about them or my parenting?

It’s not luck that my kids say please and thank you (most of the time); rather, it’s fortune.  The greatest kind of fortune.  My boys’ character and values are the result of nearly six years of back breaking work, including periodic bouts of lunacy, but small talk with good manners at the fish counter with Joshua makes the reward worth the effort.

It’s taken me years to learn to say thank you when someone compliments me  And believe me, I still need plenty of practice.  I wish I had the same discipline toward accepting a compliment about my kids or – gasp – my parenting.

How are you at accepting compliments – about you, your kids, and your parenting?


Filed under manners, motherhood, parenting

2 responses to “The Fish Counter

  1. Awww…go Dylan!

    Yes, accepting compliments – it’s strangely complicated. I guess we all just have to set aside our knee-jerk self deprecation and offer up a simple Thank You. Easier said that done! 🙂


  2. Ah! I just linked over to this and love it. I posted on the same topic on Mother’s Day, thinking we all need to give more credit where credit is due. And receive it as well.


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